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Civilization Revolution PS3, Xbox 360 PREVIEW [video] in Gaming
Pick a nation, farm your land, dispatch settlers to start new towns, discover science, start wars and knock up the Hanging Gardens of Babylon in Norwich... here the world is your fun-sized cartoon oyster. Winning means perfecting one of a series of disciplines, from building wonders of the world to fostering the rise of great people to science-ing up until you can launch a mission to Alpha Centauri - a goal that in past games was so lofty it would only ever be seen by a minimal elite. For fans of the PC game, Revolution's massive simplification of the game's systems and options, along with its insistence that you go to war with your neighbours (seeing Gandhi issue threats of violence if you don't hand over a newly researched technology is just one treat that awaits) may jar, but for everyone else this is accessible and hideously addictive.

Posted by Editorial Team Mon Jul 14, 2008 11:18 am
Rethinking Traditional Advertising Methods in Business and Industry in Gaming, Media, Web, IT and Computing
You see, for all the talk of monthly periodicals' demise, SEO'simpending reign, the downfall of FM stations and television'sinevitable implosion, we, err, sort of forgot to mention one thing:essentially that, despite posting up ratings far from the halcyon daysof the era, mass media outlets such as ABC, CBS, CNN andNBC; Time, Newsweek and USA Today;and even regional Cineplex chains still generate the kind of audiencenumbers most interactive entertainment execs would give their last USBcable to connect with. Tactics may be changing, with custom tradeshows,advertorials, movie-type trailers and cover wraps replacing simple pageads and product giveaways. But as an industry, we're far from preparedto divorce ourselves completely from traditional advertisingplacements, or shift marketing dollars exclusively onto the Internet.

"Something most gamemarketers miss about the broadcast space is the need to keep messagingpointed and simple" - Steven Roberts, DIRECTV

To wit, column after news brief after investigative report may continueto bemoan the death of old-world media. However, as any marketingdirector can attest, its core vehicles still remain one of the bestways to rapidly generate mass awareness amongst PC- or console-owningaudiences. Hence, although blogs and video aggregators deliver greatbang for the buck and generate tremendous street-level buzz, theycontinue to be promotional outlets that most core publishers have yetto wholly embrace, let alone fully commit to. Thus the reign ofhigh-profile primetime spots for titles like Grand Theft Auto, Madden and Halo rolls on.
And so, just as I humble myself before my new daughter, who hasn't meta pair of slacks she hasn't enjoyed redecorating yet, I willinglyprostrate myself before the industry-at-large and beg forgiveness. Asthe following executives – representing the television, motion pictureand direct marketing industries, respectively – are quick to remind, weshould all think twice before acting so rashly and completely writingthese businesses off.
Suffice it to say that they may not generate the same kind of headlinesin 2008 as rich media providers, online networks or widget creators,but thanks to new technology, changing tastes and increasing audiencefragmentation, let's just say they're far from out of the game.
Steven Roberts
Vice President & General Manager, Games and StrategicInitiatives for DIRECTV, overseeing broadcast ventures like 24/7interactive games channel Game Lounge and the internationally televisedChampionship Gaming Series professional league.
"Broadcast TV is absolutely not dead – just changing. Popular as gamingis, you can't look at entertainment in a vacuum... you have to considerthe overall mass-market. There are 120 million television homes outthere, with millions of people who just want to be entertained in thesame way they have for the last 50 years. NFL football still puts uphuge ratings every Sunday, and millions still tune in to watch livemusic and sports – you don't see that on an Xbox 360 console.
"True, television has to evolve, and will become more interactive toengage subscribers... if that's what users want. But what we're reallylooking at here in the immediate is developers/publishers grapplingwith a question of increasing audience segmentation. Something mostgame marketers miss about the broadcast space is the need to keepmessaging pointed and simple. That doesn't mean downplaying keyelements or features that you want understood: Just presenting them ina straightforward, easily comprehensible way that speaks to a specificaudience. Implementing better virtual cameras into games would be awelcome start... For broadcasters, it's very difficult to showdifferent elements of a title in ways instantly conducive to helpingpeople understand what it's all about.
"It's also important to look beyond the 30-second spot. There's plentyof room for advertisers to tap into broadcast vehicles, whether throughtelevised competitions, interactive online program extensions orproduct integration. Placing games front and center by showing ahalf-hour of screens, video footage and people playing these titlesmakes sense. But what you really need for effective campaigns here isto build elements of user interaction into your advertising and pair itwith programming that's consistent with the demographics of the gameitself.
"It all comes back to basics. People won't skip an ad on a DVR or turnaway to get a glass of milk if it's compelling, the message is clearand it's telling you something that you want to hear. Creative doesn'tjust have to wow either: It also has to make sense for the audiencesegment. While marketing can be fun and have an edge to it, ultimately,for on-air placements, it's vital to make sure the message is verytargeted, specific and simple."
"For all the uproar surrounding the movie business lately, gamemarketers shouldn't underestimate in-cinema advertising's power. Mostmedia features a device (remote control, mouse click, radio dial, etc.)that lets audiences tune unwanted messaging out. But at the theater,you've paid to be there, are a captive audience and want to beentertained. This receptivity begets results if the creative is good:Recall scores average around 60%, with categories like gaming actuallysoaring into the 80-90% range.
"Definitely, the big screen's sexy. Via streaming media, you canliterally send ads for M-rated games to all R-rated movie screenings inany given city; appear alongside only specific types of films; ordeliver different messages to different geographic markets on-demand.But publishers need to look beyond the most obvious opportunities –lobbies can also be a marketing wonderland. Standees, banners,concession items... From 20-minute pre-shows packed with original,exclusive and entertaining content to game posters disguised to looklike cinematic counterparts, options for building brand equity areendless.
"Hollywood is far from dead. Are gamers going to see Shrek, The Matrix and Pirates of the Caribbean?Of course... it's common sense. Research also shows emotions aremagnified at the theater – and the same holds for audience reactions tocommercials as well as films. It's hard to argue with a dark room, agiant screen and a group of people who've willingly paid to be thereand want to see what's in store.
"Also note – 80% of tickets are sold on weekends, a time when peoplewant to go shopping, and theaters are generally located in shoppingdistricts. Stick a retail discount on a box office handout, and youdon't just achieve grassroots interaction, or present a clear call toaction. It's also conceivably the last message a consumer sees beforehaving to drive home past a Best Buy or Wal-Mart where your game'sconveniently stocked."

"People are more distracted than ever – advertisers need to cut throughthe clutter. You have to find ways to surprise and entertainaudiences... It's important to design options that let you really spendtime with consumers in a meaningful way.
"Consider core gamers. You can look at where they're hanging out – atfraternity houses, sports bars, military bases, wherever – thendiscover ways to be there. It's even possible to reach players atschool and weave gaming properties into an educational message. Theseinstitutions appreciate it when game companies can provide them withbranded book covers, locker calendars or workshops that incorporatethese titles to teach lessons, just to name a few possible choices.
"Basically, you have to create options that make sense for the contentand target demographic, then craft a vehicle that fits. This could be abranded video game tournament, for example, or involve catching fans ata sporting event and giving them things they can wear to the game.There are alternative ways to reach virtually any shopper.
"It's crucial for publishers to connect with fans on a one-on-onelevel, because as excited as TV/film imagery can make them, people wantto go hands-on and try your games. To do so, you have to interface withthem on the street. Demos at malls, movie theaters, health clubs, etc.are essential to building buzz: There's a direct link between samplersconverting into purchasers. Experience is everything, and consumers aregoing to be the strongest ambassadors for your brand – word-of-mouth isincredibly powerful in the enthusiast gaming community.
"A holistic strategy is important, though: Alternative marketing shouldjust be one part of a diversified tactical plan. If I can see an ad foryour game during Lost or American Idol, then it happens to be at a barwhere I can try it, it'll pique my interest... Suddenly, brand andbuyer are making a meaningful connection. Remember though, that theseplacements have to be unobtrusive. You can't invade someone's space –you have to make kiosks, stands, booths, etc. – something that adds to,not takes away from, the entertainment value of any activity or event."
Posted by Editorial Team Tue Jul 08, 2008 7:40 am
BBFC hits back at UK games industry and MS - 'we can cope' in Business and Industry in Gaming, Media, Web, IT and Computing
"We are disappointed and concernedabout attempts by one or two video games publishers to pre-empt,through recent press statements, the forthcoming public consultation onvideo games classification. Their statements are misleading in severalrespects," says BBFC director David Cooke.

Full report
   BBFC Rejects Criticism Of Byron Games Classification Proposals
The BBFC says itsaverage turnaround time for games classifications is eight calendardays and there should be no reason why the increased role for the BBFCenvisaged by Dr Byron should lead to delays.

A statement frothe BBFC reads: "BBFC classifications are already cheaper for manygames than those under the Pan European Games Information System(PEGI). Because the BBFC currently deals mainly with the mostproblematic games, BBFC costs will fall if, as Dr Byron recommended, wetake on all games, physical and online, rated '12' and above.

"It is absurd to imply that the BBFCcould not cope, or would need 'a building the size of Milton Keynes'.The BBFC is a larger and better resourced organisation than PEGI, andis well used to gearing up, and to providing fast-track services whereappropriate.

BBFC Statement

"We reject any suggestions that the Byronproposals for dealing with online games are not future-proof. Countriessuch as the USA and Germany already classify such games in a way whichreflects national cultural sensibilities. The BBFC has made clear thatwe are prepared to work through PEGI Online, which already recognizesBBFC symbols. But, with online games, the real need is not apan-national grouping of markets, but rather soundly based andindependent initial classification, full information provision, andresponsible self-regulation of online game-play backed by properlyresourced independent monitoring and complaints mechanisms.

"The games industry really does have nothing to fear from a set ofproposals which would provide more robust, and fully independent,decisions, and detailed content advice, for the British public, andespecially parents. The Byron proposals, far from envisaging thecollapse of PEGI, specifically provide for a continuing PEGI presencein UK games classification. They also provide significant opportunitiesto reduce duplication of effort and costs. And they would make wideruse of a system, the BBFC's, which British parents recognize, trust andhave confidence in."

"TheBBFC has made clear that we are prepared to work through PEGI Online,which already recognises BBFC symbols. But, with online games, the realneed is not a pan-national grouping of markets, but rather soundlybased and independent initial classification, full informationprovision, and responsible self-regulation of online game-play backedby properly resourced independent monitoring and complaints mechanisms."

Games industry fear
Cookewants to reassure games publishers and developers alike, claiming: "Thegames industry really does have nothing to fear from a set of proposalswhich would provide more robust, and fully independent decisions, anddetailed content advice for the British public, and especially parents.
"The Byron proposals, far from envisaging the collapse of PEGI,specifically provide for a continuing PEGI presence in UK gamesclassification. They also provide significant opportunities to reduceduplication of effort and costs. And they would make wider use of asystem, the BBFC's, which British parents recognise, trust and haveconfidence in."

Plans to introduce cinema-style ratings for computer games aimed at theover-12s came under criticism as the world's largest games developer voicedits opposition to the proposals.
Electronic Arts (EA), maker of the Battlefields and Command & Conquertitles, said that the new scheme would confuse parents, be unworkable andlead to games being released later in Britain than in the rest of the world.
Computer games for the under-18s are rated under the self-regulatory, PEGI[Pan European Game Information age-rating system] scheme. The 18-plus titlesare examined by the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC).
Tanya Byron, parenting guru and columnist for The Times, has said in agovernment-commissioned report that parents do not understand the PEGIsystem and proposed that the BBFC rate all games that would attract a 12certificate and above.

EA, which makes about one in five of the games sold in the UK, wants legalenforcement of the PEGI system. Keith Ramsdale, who runs EA's business inthe UK, said: “What we need is a single system. "There are somegames that are already rated at 18 on the current system but would be at 15on the new cinema model. What we do need is legal enforcement of the PEGIstandard, because now if a child of 12 wants to buy a 16-plus game, theretailer has to sell it to them.”
His comments came as ministers begin consultations on how best to implement DrByron's proposals. She said that she sympathised with industry concernsabout the cost of compliance but did not accept EA's complaints. “Parentsdon't understand PEGI, and while adults don't buy Texas Chainsaw Massacrefor their children, they might still buy a [violent] game like Grand TheftAuto,” she said. Dr Byron said that legal enforcement of the PEGIregulations would be “a good compromise” between a statutory scheme andself-regulation. She added that her wish to have the BBFC rate all games“may be changed slightly as a result of the consultation”.
EA argues that the BBFC proposal is also unworkable because games increasinglyinclude extra levels or components downloaded from the internet. Mr Ramsdalesaid that the BBFC would need “a building with the size of Milton Keynes” tohouse all the censors needed to handle the thousands of game components andelements that companies like his hope to sell. The games industry has saidthat the proposed system could collapse because the BBFC could not cope.
Concerns about the need to regulate online games were overstated, Dr Byronsaid. “The majority of people buy games in the shops - that's where themarket is today,” she said.
EA asserted that the UK release of games would be delayed by “weeks, notdays”, while games released globally were made to comply with Britishratings. The pan-European PEGI system could be undermined if the UK, thebiggest single games market in Europe, walked away from it. Germany is theonly other big country in Europe to have its own ratings system. Last yearBritons bought £1.7 billion of video games.
Posted by Editorial Team Tue Jul 01, 2008 7:04 am
Evaluating your graphics card needs - Full iVirtua Guide in Hardware, Internet, Networking, Comms and Security
If you happen to have a friend or a family member who’s an expert oncomputer graphics cards, you’re in luck. Bring that person along withyou while you shop, and you’ll benefit from their experience.

If,on the other hand, you don’t have a game techno-wizard to call on—or,if you’d like to understand what you’re buying before you spend yourhard-earned cash—you’ve come to the right place. In this section, Ihelp you determine which graphics card features you need, includingimportant considerations such as video memory, the bus type, andexternal connectors.

Built-in versus add-on
Today’s PCs use two different types of graphics cards, and each has advantages and disadvantages:

Built-in cards.A graphics card in this category isn’t really a graphics adapter cardat all, because it’s actually integrated into the motherboard. Abuilt-in card doesn’t require an AGP slot or a PCI slot, so amotherboard with a built-in card can fit into a smaller case anddoesn’t take up a valuable slot. (This explains why graphics cards areoften built-in on computers that use thin workstation cases, which arecommonly called pizza box cases.) If you’re building a new PC, rememberthat a built-in graphics card is usually easier to configure than aseparate adapter—and integrated graphics cards tend to be lessexpensive than their removable counterparts. On the down side, anintegrated video card may not let you install additional video memory.

Separate adapter cards.
A graphics adapter occupies either an AGP or a PCI slot in yourcomputer. Naturally, a separate card is the choice of gamers who willbe upgrading their graphics hardware to keep up with the cutting-edge3D chipsets and visual effects in the latest video games. If yourgraphics adapter suddenly stops working and you need to replace it, aseparate graphics adapter card will ensure that you don’t have to sendback your entire motherboard for service or replacement, too.

Ifyou’re considering a graphics upgrade for your current motherboard andit has a built-in graphics card, you’re facing a brick wall (unless youcan add a daughter card, or disable the integrated card so that you canadd a PCI graphics card).

Understanding resolution and refresh rate

Askany computer power user—especially a gamer—what specifications are mostimportant in selecting a graphics card, and two figures are almostcertain to be included in the group: maximum resolution and maximumrefresh rate. In this section, I discuss both of these importantcriteria.

Resolution makes the graphics card
Resolutionbegins with the smallest unit displayed by your graphics card—a singledot, called a pixel. Pixels are the building blocks of every imagedisplayed on your monitor; they’re arranged in lines across yourscreen, and your graphics card controls each pixel individually forbrightness and color. For this reason, everyone expresses resolution asthe number of pixels displayed horizontally by the number of linesdisplayed vertically. For example, a resolution of 800 x 600 means thatthe monitor displays 800 pixels horizontally across the screen and 600pixels vertically.

Windows 98 still supports a minimumresolution of 640 x 480, and some games still use thisresolution—typically for big, bright graphics that don’t need a lot ofdetail, as in a casino game. However, almost all games that need finedetail—from role-playing games and strategy games to 3D first-persongames and simulations—now use resolutions of 800 x 600 or 1,024 x 768.Your desktop also benefits from a higher resolution, as you can displaymore of a larger document, Web page, image, or spreadsheet (or justmore program icons) on the screen at one time.

As you’veprobably already guessed, I would recommend that you keep your desktopset to a resolution of at least 800 x 600 (or, if your eyes don’t mind,1,024 x 768 is even better). If you can switch resolutions inside agame, you’ll probably find the resolution control in the Options orSetup screen; many games automatically set the resolution based on thespeed of your processor and the amount of video memory on your card.

The importance of the refresh rate
Whatis the refresh rate of a monitor, and why is it such a big deal forgamers? That’s a good question. But before I answer it, I need todescribe how your computer actually draws a video image on yourmonitor. (Don’t worry: I’ll try to keep this from getting boring.)

Agraphics card creates an image on your computer monitor by “painting”it with electrons—in fact, the image is emitted from a phosphorescentcoating that glows on the inside of the monitor tube. The coating glowswhen it’s hit with a stream of electrons from the electron emitter(commonly called an electron gun) at the back of the monitor; theseelectrons move across the inside surface of your monitor, one line at atime, from top to bottom.

However, while the electrons arefocused on another portion of the screen, the phosphorescent coating onthe area that’s already been painted starts to dim, and then thecoating stops glowing entirely. So the monitor must redraw the imageconstantly to keep it bright, as shown in

Asyou probably expected, the refresh rate (also called the vertical scanrate) of a graphics card-and-monitor combination refers to the numberof times per second that your computer redraws the image on themonitor. As a general rule, the higher the refresh rate, the better;although you can’t see it with your eyes, the majority of computersredraw each pixel on the monitor at least 65 times per second (giving arefresh rate of 65Hz). Resolution is also tied to refresh rate: Asresolution goes up (which uses more video memory), refresh rates willdrop accordingly.

Here’s the bad news: 65Hz isn’t enough for anyPC owner, especially gamers. A dedicated computer gamer needs a higherrefresh rate for several reasons:

A gamer can spendhours in front of a monitor, and a higher refresh rate reduceseyestrain for most people. Even though you may not be able to noticethe screen being redrawn, your eye can discern the difference between arefresh rate of 60Hz and 75Hz. The more times the screen is redrawnevery second, the more stable the image appears, and the less itbothers your eye.

Many games require higher resolutions in therange of 800 x 600 to 1,024 x 768, and higher resolutions generallylook better with a higher refresh rate.

Because an image is morestable at a higher frame rate, small details onscreen are easier todistinguish with a higher refresh rate.

A higher refresh rate reduces flicker in all of your games.

Therefore, keep these recommendations in mind when you’re shopping for a graphics card or monitor to use for gaming:

Ifyou’re shopping for a monitor, always try to find one in a local storeso that you can evaluate it with your own eyes: Specifications don’ttell the whole story. As a demonstration, run your favorite game on themonitor before you decide.

Always look for a graphics card andmonitor with a refresh rate of at least 75Hz. For most people, thehigher the refresh rate, the better the image; in fact, some expensivehigh-end graphics card-and-monitor combinations (commonly used forcomputer-aided drafting) can handle refresh rates of over 100Hz.However, I’ve met gamers and other computer owners who swear that theyprefer a lower refresh rate. Only your eye can make the decision, sotry out a monitor at 75Hz or 80Hz before you buy it.

Both yourmonitor and your graphics card must support the same refresh rate inorder for you to use it. Setting your monitor for a higher refresh ratethan recommended by the manufacturer can permanently damage it!(Windows 95 and 98 may alert you of this problem as well if you try toset your refresh rate too high.)

If your monitor and graphicscard have Windows 95 or 98 drivers, your computer can automatically setthe optimal refresh rate for your particular hardware combination. (Ofcourse, that’s “optimal” according to the manufacturer, so it may notsuit you perfectly. But at least it’s a good start.)

Unfortunately,there’s one problem with shopping for a card with a high refresh rate:This particular figure often isn’t mentioned! Most manufacturers don’tinclude a card’s refresh rate in their advertising, so it’s up to youto visit the company’s Web site and dig a little deeper. You’ll alsofind these benchmark figures mentioned in articles covering graphicshardware in gaming and computer magazines. Sometimes a little sleuthingcan make the difference between a good graphics-card choice and a greatchoice, so avoid the temptation to buy quickly. And turn a critical eyetoward those flashy graphics-card magazine advertisements.
Posted by Editorial Team Tue Jun 17, 2008 5:32 am
Gran Turismo vs. Forza Motorsport : Comparison in Gaming
“Both have cars, both have racing, so what’s the difference?”

That’s our job to tell you. For people unaware about these racing series, you should know they are probably the best racing simulations in account for realism. Gran Turismo is the PlayStation exclusive series and Forza Motorsport is the Xbox loyalist. They are not NFS-ish titles giving a laid-back and blissful driving. Gran Turismo is a completely settled franchise now whereas Forza Motorsport is a brand new series having only two titles till date.

Gran Turismo (from Polyphony Digital), the first “top PSX seller” title was out in fall of 1997 and was recognized not only for the extensively realistic driving simulation, physics based car realism and sound from real life cars but also for the maximum PlayStation power it was utilizing to give at-the-time state of the art graphics. And till date it has evolved into numerous titles just beside the “full” games which would feature some gameplay depicting only concepts of what they were building in their future releases.

Prior to GT 4, GT 4: Prologue was released, which was regarded as a teaser for the game. This helped them realize what people would expect from GT 4 and yet despite it was unexpected the GT 4 was then released with a vast number of  around 700 cars and 50+ race tracks. Therefore all the GTs have huge number of licensed vehicles to keep you immersed in the game and whatever you think GT is like, you will not get bored of the content each (full) version of the game will offer.

And finally the game has stepped into the next generation console PS3 having scintillating graphics that you could easily mistake for a real footage if somehow you were browsing through your TV channels and one of them was showing the game footage (I kept looking for GamerTV but was irritated to see this game’s video wondering why in the world GamerTV is not coming on its time, only to be in awe few seconds later). The “full” next gen version of GT which is Gran Turismo 5: not released but its teaser is ready for people to get their hands on.

Forza Motorsport, GT’s now one of the main adversaries developed by Turn 10 came out on Xbox in May 2005, featuring around 231 cars at your disposal to race around real life circuits. The most esteemed feature in Forza was its physics engine and how it would vary the car’s performance impromptu of effects like damage or collision (which also we will discuss is dazzling) during The Race. So Forza was known for its realistic damage and collisions from the perspective of a professional driver or a casual racing gamer.

Like I said, in contrast to GT, Forza would vary three main features of the car you browse for in games (Top Speed, Acceleration and Handling) according to how much we have smashed our car during a race. Realism! It spawned a sequel in mid-2007 on next gen Xbox 360 also which was successful with nothing immense to show off but still having the Forza-essence which is good.

It will be too thorough to discuss series by series so here we will take a contrasting (or not) look at the latest next gen iterations of the series, Gran Turismo 5: Prologue and Forza Motorsport 2.


Since GT 5 Pro is only a demo there is less course selection but still has a huge amount of cars, which might get problematic as its fun to change the area you are driving in more than the car you are driving. But the game is still fully fledged and can easily be stripped of its ‘demo’ tag. The characteristics of a car are a striking feature.

Every car is different, every! You will want to remember each and every detail & spec about cars and even when you have the best cars you will feel like giving your old one a try just because it had something unique (which every car does). The new and improved dashboard look is praiseworthy. It’s not a stationary picture in any sense, completely different dashboards for all cars which are exceptionally accurate and in motion.

So we will see everything different in dashboards when we go from all included Ferraris and Ford GTs to Skylines and Mustangs. The course selection is limited but a very good compilation so unless you feel like having more you won’t be disappointed with what you have got. The new interface is now having the first time introduced “My Page” just like having a profile page from where you will be able to do whatever you want do in the game.

The GUI is completely HD rendered and it’s an exquisite display all the way. This game is the first one to go online with plenty of race combos to compete in.

Coming to Forza 2, the feature in the limelight comes to be the any level combination you can get of cars, motors, parts and race tracks. You feel like doing “something” and you do the very exact “something”. The developers worked 24 hours as this is easily evident.

There are 12 different environments with 40+ racetracks which tend to get confessedly repetitive but not perhaps for a racing maniac. The list includes famous race tracks like Silver Stone or Laguna and what’s more, it also has fantasy tracks for the satisfying driving thrill of cars whose cost ranges in 100 thousands of dollars.

The interface is beautiful, bright and trouble-free to go through with plenty of options in racing. You can go online for an incredible number of options like car trading, car gifting and Microsoft sponsored tournaments. Oh yes, also free racing with opponents!

Winner: Forza Motorsport 2


In Gran Turismo 5: Prologue, the physics and mechanics are state of the art. The car would drive as real as it would in real life. It would over steer-under steer exactly according how pathetically you drive and wherever the engine is placed in the car. As I said each car is distinctive. The characteristics of each car are clearly noticeable even if they are similar in internal design. It is all dynamics and the way you drive.

The AI in past GT games was average. There was nothing significant about it but in GT 5 Pro it is slightly improved. Occasionally you will see other drivers making mistakes which might cost us too. They will try their best to win and stay smooth on the road. Nothing outstanding about it but still improvement is improvement.

Forza Motorsport 2 is on the perfect spot on the line between realism and arcade-enjoyment in car racing. In controls, it is more or less like GT, which is to say it’s just about completely realistic. Real tests on car drivers were done where some racer drove on a real track and then in the game with the same car and track to see how closely the record results matched.

The game features the driving assistance line just like in NFS ProStreet which would show you the best line for driving around curves including when to slow down and when to pick up the pace or rush. The AI is average.

Occasionally someone would swipe ahead from your side giving you a nudge (which leads your car exasperatingly off course) but during parallel driving they tend to back off showing cowardice. So the race is won slowly. But this game is surely not for the impatient types. One thing to note is that the upgrades in the cars makes things easier but don’t turn out to be table turning and if you drive smooth and perfect you will win any race with the stock car.

Finally to say, in both games you cannot say “Step on it!!” because you don’t have to “step on it”, otherwise it’s just bye-bye early from race for you. It’s all about feathering the accelerator and brakes with ‘love and affection’ around the ‘mean’ turns to stay ahead and win the race. If you prefer to be in speed throughout all the game buy an NFS.

Winner: Forza Motorsport 2 with a very low margin.


If I don’t talk about graphics this article would not probably be about gaming! GT 5: Prologue is easily the king of graphics. As mentioned before, it’s easy to mistake it for real footage when you run it at 1080p. It supports all kinds of modes 1080p/i, 720p whatever you have in your TV and the game rocks the PS3 potential.

You can go through the trailers online and see the stunning amount of detail in the game which may actually drive you off course a lot. The lighting is astounding. The unique dashboard in every car would show a lot detailed lighting effects as the car changes angles according to the sun or goes through a tunnel or a shadowed area whatever. Its graphics are closest to realism without a doubt.

Forza Motorsport 2 is however on the other hand, not up to the mark. It is clearly not sucking the Xbox 360 potential and aliasing and jagged lines are all over the screen. Modes supported are 720p and 1080i. The graphics section is clearly a turn down feature about the game otherwise probably making it best of the best.

The real time damage done to the cars is however paid attention to and the details are overwhelming. GT 5: Prologue also has similarly brilliant damage effects.

Winner: Gran Turismo 5: Prologue without a doubt.


This genre of game or racing is not about the sound really but still GT 5 has state of the art engine sounds which are totally from real life cars and a decent soundtrack. There are no complaints about it. Forza Motorsport 2 has varying engine sounds, though it’s all only what you can expect from a racing game. The ambient noises can get irksome in Forza.

Winner: Gran Turismo 5: Prologue


Sorry to disappoint you all but there is no “Overall”. GT5: Prologue may be a decision for an average gamer but a must buy for GT fans and Forza 2 is a must buy for arcade driving lovers still looking for realism but a decision for someone who wants high-tech graphics. We were never supposed to conclude which game is better. Both are fantastic titles of the gaming industry and a must play for all avid racing gamers.

Stuff like state of the art graphics in GT5: Prologue and extravagant amount of detail in Forza Motorsport 2 (like even getting discounts from car companies) put both these games on the success list. Buy the game (if you haven’t already) for whichever console you own or get both if you have both X360 and PS3.
Posted by Editorial Team Fri Jun 13, 2008 4:36 pm
WWDC 08: Sega Super Monkey Ball iPhone in Apple
"Thousands of people are building apps... we were really amazed withthe quality of these apps. We've invited a number of these devs up heretoday." Sega's starting out. "Sega blew us away with what theyaccomplished in just two weeks with the first cut of Super MonkeyBall..." Ethan Einhorn from Sega is taking the stage

10:26AM PT - Goingover quotes flacking the SDK... Disney, InfoWorld. Ok, we get it,you're preaching to the choir here! This is the Apple developerconference, after all.

10:28 - Took Sega two weeks to port Super Monkey Ball.Inviting Ethan from Sega. 110 stages for a handheld game. All theclassic monkeys.
Posted by Editorial Team Mon Jun 09, 2008 1:30 pm
WWDC 08 Live Coverage: iPhone SDK 2.0 in Apple
Ok, Scott, we love what you've done here, but we're yawning. Thenagain, the thousands of devs in the audience are probably stoked --those that haven't used the SDK anyway.

Demo time! "I want toconcentrate on how we construct a UI..." making an app called NearbyFriends. Accesses the contacts database and Core Location to filter allcontacts with contacts within 10mi. Building the UI with InterfaceBuilder. Dragging and dropping interface elements.

Going over debungging and Xcode, instruments -- all the stuff from the March iPhone roadmap event.

10:20AM PT - "Wetop it all off with Cocoa Touch -- our UI object oriented framework,which makes building an app for our fullscreen touch interface anabsolute breeze. We have a great set of APIs. On top of this we have areally powerful set of tools."

"With the SDK in iPhone 2.0 we'reopening the same native APIs and tools we use internally... that meansyou as a dev can build apps for the iPhone the same way we do. Let'sstart by talking about the APIs. The APIs and frameworks on the iPhoneshare extensively with OS X... We use the same kernel in the iPhonethat forms the basis of OS X... almost all of them share the samesource code line-for-line as OS X." He's going over the bits of CoreServices: SQL lite, OpenGL ES, OpenAL

Steve's back on: "That gives you a sense of what we're doing in theenterprise, all this stuff built into iPhone 2.0. Next up is the SDK,to take us where we are there and to show us some really excitingstuff, I'd like to bring up Scott Forstall." Applause.

Still going... the Army sure does love the new iPhone software!

Going over some firms, testimonials style. Great if you care about the petabytes in the datacenters of Disney, we guess!

10:13AM PT -"We've had phenomenal participation from higher education. Again,gotten fantastic feedback. We made a video of these customers, I'd loveto show it to you..." Video time!

"We've had a beta going... 35%of the Fortune 500 has participated in that beta program. The top 5banks, top 5 securities firms, 6 or 7 top airlines, 8 of 10 top pharma,and 8 of 10 top entertainment companies."

"Exchange... as you know, we've done it... push email, calendars,contacts, auto-discovery, global address lookup, remote wipe, all thisstuff built in. In addition we've worked with Cisco to build in theirVPN services... all sorts of security demanded by the enterprise.Everything they told us they wanted, we built in."

"iPhone 2.0 software, there are three parts: enterprise support, SDK, and new end-user features. Let me start with enterprise."

10:10AM PT -"Let's talk about iPhone, the place to start is our new software -- theiPhone 2.0 platform, a giant step forward from where we've been... westarted a dev program in March, which is just 95 days ago. In those 95days we've had over 250k download the free SDK. We've had over 25kpeople apply to the pay developer program... unfortunately we couldn'ttake everybody, so we admitted 4k people to the program..."

"Tohelp me, I'm going to ask Scott Forstall and Phil Schiller to help mewith parts of this. Then... Bertrand Serlet will give you a sneak peakat the next version of OS X called Snow Leopard."

"Let's get started. As you know there are three parts to Apple --the first part is Mac, second part is our music business, iPod andiTunes, and the third part is the iPhone. I'm going to take thismorning to talk about the iPhone."

"I'm sorry for all those folks that couldn't be here... we're goingto have a great week this week. 147 sessions, 85 on the Mac, and 62 onthe iPhone... it's going to be packed! 169 hands-on labs, 1k Appleengineers, iFund and Intel sessions. I think it's going to be one ofthe best WWDCs ever."

10:07AM PT - "Thankyou very much. I'm really glad to be here this morning. We've beenworking hard on some great stuff... thank you for coming to WWDC 2008.We've got a record 5200 attendees -- we wish we could have had more,but we sold out!"

Roar, applause.

Music's over, and here we go... lights all the way down, Steve's on stage!

10:06AM PT - Lights are coming down! Crowd beginning to roar!

Announcer: "Turn off all cellphones, iPhones, PDAs... our program will start in a few minutes."

10:02AM PT - OK, weird, a bunch of attendees just stood up and started clapping -- we don't know why, since it wasn't Jobs (or so we think).

9:51AM PT - Peoplestill funneling in -- this auditorium seats thousands of people, so ittakes a little while. Say, is that Gavin Newsome? Oh, and there's AlGore.

9:46AM PT -We're in! The cattle rush of the media was pretty mellow this timearound. Shockingly enough, they're playing oldies -- not the usualsoundtrack of Gnarles Barkley, Coldplay, Gorillaz, etc.

9:37AM PT - Everybody is crowding up at the closed gates, preparing for the Running of the Media.

9:16AM PT - People are really filing in. You've never heard so many people say the word "iPhone" in your life.

8:43AM PT - We'rein line at the Moscone Center (which is actually pretty spare at themoment), but it's early. The media's got a ton of MacBook Airs. Staytuned for our live coverage of the event.

Already hundreds of devs and attendees are piling up downstairs to get in.

Posted by Editorial Team Mon Jun 09, 2008 1:26 pm
WWDC 08: iVirtua Official Topic, Analysis, Live Coverage in Apple
WWDC 2008 is currently taking place from June 9 to June 13 at Moscone West, San Francisco.

Applereported that, for the first time, this conference is sold out. Thereare three tracks for developers, iPhone, Mac, and IT.

Announcementsat the keynote included the App Store for iPhone and iPod Touch, thestable version of the iPhone SDK, a subsidized 3G version of the iPhonefor Worldwide markets, version 2.0 of the iPhone OS, Mac OS X v10.6,and the replacement/rebranding of .Mac as MobileMe.
Mac OS X version 10.6 "Snow Leopard" is the presumptive designation of Apple's next major version of Mac OS X. It was announced by Apple  CEO Steve Jobs at  WWDC on June 9, 2008. It is scheduled to ship "about a year" from the announcement.
Mac OS X v10.6 will not introduce any major new features, ratherfocusing on improving performance, stability and reducing the footprintof Mac OS X. However, full support for Microsoft Exchange will be included.
Snow Leopard

Difference between .Mac and MobileMe
While mostly replacing .Mac (which was primarily centered aroundInternet services for Apple's desktop and notebook computers), MobileMeprovides Internet services for both Mac OS X and the iPhone OS as well as the iPod touch device and Microsoft Windowsusers. This means that now you are not restricted to a Mac runningsoftware like Mail and iCal, but can access your personal data from anycomputer connected to the internet.

20GB of online storage featuring 200GB of monthly transfer. Thefamily pack includes this for the main user as well as 5GB of storageand 50GB of transfer for each sub user (up to four additional users)

Free Push Mail. Includes a email address. When a message is received it is sent directly to all the user's devices.

Address Book
Address Book (Push). When a contacted is added or amended it is updated immediately on all the user's devices.

Calendar (Push). When a calendar appointment is added or amended it is updated immediately on all the user's devices.

Public photo gallery. Photos can be uploaded in the web browser or synced by iPhoto on a mac

iDisk, which is accessible via a web browser, the Finder on a Mac, or as a remote disk in Microsoft Windows.The iDisk can also share files by emailing a link to the intendedrecipient. Another feature is to set an expiration on the link. Thismeans access to file will stop after a set number of downloads or aftercertain time period.

Web 2.0
MobileMe uses web 2.0 technologies to provide the look and feel of desktop-class applications in the user's web browser.

An Individual purchase of a MobileMe account for one-year is $99 USD (£59), while a Family Packsubscription (which includes one individual account and four familyaccounts with a specific email address for each one) is $149 USD (£89)for one year. The Individual account will have 20GB of combined emailand file storage and 200GB of monthly data transfer, while the FamilyPack will have, for each account in the Pack, 5GB of combined email andfile storage, and 50GB of monthly data transfer.

MobileMe is supposed to comprise Microsoft Exchange-like features for consumers.

Browser Support
MobileMe's online services can be accessed in Desktop Applications.MobileMe also allows access to the user's data in desktop-likeenvironment in a web browser. Featured browsers are:

  • Safari 3 or later (Mac + PC)
  • Firefox 2 or later (Mac + PC)
  • Internet Explorer 7 (PC)
iPhone 2.0

  • Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync support
  • Push email
  • Push contacts
  • Push calendar
  • Global Address List
  • Certificates and Identities
  • WPA2/802.1x
  • Enforced security policies
  • Extra keyboard languages including Chinese and Korean
  • Cisco IPsec VPN support
  • Device configuration
  • Remote wipe
  • Ability to view PowerPoint attachments
  • Mass email delete
  • Mass email move
  • Bonjour service discovery protocol
  • Support for SVG
  • Parental controls
  • Ability to search contacts
  • App Store (To manage third-party applications)
  • New "Calendar" menu in "Settings"
  • Updated calculator with extra features in portrait mode, a scientific calculator in landscape mode and an updated icon.
  • Updated iTunes with a new icon and reordered category icons within iTunes application.
  • Ability to save or open images from websites in Safari
  • Support for Traditional and Simplified Chinese handwriting recognition
  • Geotagging
  • Norwegian, Swedish, Danish, Finnish, Polish, Korean and Brazilian Portuguese language interface in iPhone, previously these languages were only in the iPod Touch since 1.1.1

Workers hang Apple's logo outside Moscone Center, where the Worldwide Developers Conference kicks off Monday.
(Credit: James Martin/CNET
Expect to hear new details about the future of Apple's Mac OS X andWeb business next week at the Worldwide Developers Conference--and wethink there might be a new iPhone, too.
On Monday, Apple CEO Steve Jobs will take the stage at the Moscone WestConvention Center in San Francisco to address a gathering of Apple'sdevelopers and the media. This year's WWDCis sold out to the development community, who will be hearing formalpresentations by Apple on both Mac and iPhone development during theweek's sessions and meetings.
Anyone with even a passing interest in consumer electronics is probably aware that Apple is expected to unveil the next generation of the iPhone in the near future. The older version has been sold out for weeks as we approach the anniversary of the first model's debut, and anticipation of a model that can connect to 3G cellular networks has been building almost since that date last year.
One of the primary drawbacks of the first iteration of the iPhone hasbeen its reliance on the slower EDGE network outside of Wi-Fi hotspots, which can make downloading a Web page an exercise in patience.Upgrading to a faster connection should encourage people to do more Webbrowsing outside of Wi-Fi connections and could open up a whole newclass of applications that need a faster pipe to work effectively.
Apple is also expected to include GPS technologyinside the latest version, another development that could pique thesoftware development community's interest in the iPhone. Location-awareservices are available on several phones that use GPS technology, andthe iPhone developers could soon be ready to join the party.
Will the new iPhone be available immediately following Jobs' keynote?It's not clear. There have been conflicting reports, but Brian Tong ofCNET TV is hearing from his sources that Apple Retail employees havenot yet been told whether they'll need to report early on Monday for aspecial training session, which the company has done in the past beforemajor announcements.

Next Monday, Apple CEO Steve Jobs could announce a new iPhone and a new operating system.
(Credit: Apple)
While the iPhone gets all the attention as the new kid on the block,WWDC is always, in large part, about the Mac. Apple chose a picture oftwo Golden Gate bridges branching off in different directions toillustrate its WWDC invitation, and while the iPhone branch mightaccount for the sold-out conference, the Mac branch is the bread andbutter of this conference.
The Unofficial Apple Weblogreported on Wednesday that Apple would be providing developers with anearly version of Mac OS X 10.6 during the conference. It's unclearwhether that means Apple is ready to start demonstrating features fromthat release, but the report said the new version is expected to focuson "stability and security."
Apple released Leopard, Mac OS X 10.5, last October after a delay needed to make sure the iPhone arrived on time. At the time, Jobs told The New York Times that he wants Apple to stick to an operating-system deployment cycle of 12 to 18 months.
TUAW's report says Apple could be eyeing a Macworld 2009 release forMac OS X 10.6, which would certainly nestle within that time frame.Microsoft recently said it wants to get the next version of Windows out by the end of 2009.
Another interesting part of that report is the notion that 10.6 will bean Intel-only release. Users of older Macs running PowerPC chips wereable to upgrade to Leopard, but the report suggests that Apple willdrop PowerPC support with the next release.
Apple will likely spend a healthy portion of Jobs' keynote discussingMac OS X, but it remains to be seen how much of a peek we'll get at thenext version. One question on the minds of many Apple users: afterwhich big cat will Apple choose to name the next release?
Ars Technica's Infinite Loopreported Wednesday that "Snow Leopard" was the name slated for the nextversion, which sounds like it could be somewhat confusing, given thefact that the current version is called Leopard. In a poll on TUAW'ssite, "Cougar" was in the lead, trailed by "Lynx" and "LOLcat," the last of which we can probably eliminate.
The third leg of the WWDC presentation could involve Apple's .Macservice. There have been a number of recent signs that Apple isrethinking its presence on the Internet, with new domain names beingsnapped up by the company and code strings in the iPhone SDK suggesting that a new name is on tap.
One interesting thing to watch for concerning any new version of .Macis how much of the service Apple keeps in-house, as opposed to bringinga Web-savvy partner like Google into the mix. The .Mac service is a good idea, but it isn't widely used among Mac users due to issues with its stability, feature list, and price tag.
Any or all of those objections could change, if Apple transfers theback end of the service to a huge Internet services provider likeGoogle, and uses the service to bring Macs and iPhones together ininteresting ways.
As usual, Apple is very tight-lipped about what may or may not bearriving during this year's WWDC. The latest iPhone may or may not beready for an actual release on the first day of the show, but expectthe topic to be the highlight of the day's announcements.

WWDC 2007 Keynote Live Coverage here at iVirtua Community
Posted by Editorial Team Mon Jun 09, 2008 1:23 pm
Xbox Live revamp hints in Business and Industry in Gaming, Media, Web, IT and Computing
Microsoft is looking to reorganise Xbox Live content to make it easierfor users to navigate around the thousands of items that have beenadded since the console's 2005 launch.
"Longer term, we're looking to make the ability to find contentand organise the 17,000 pieces of content we have a lot better," AaronGreenberg, product management director for Xbox 360 and Xbox Live, toldMTV Multiplayer.
The last hint Microsoft dropped about an Xbox Live revamp was in a February job advertseeking someone to join the team "building the games, the consoleinterface and logic, and the server support for a totally new Liveexperience".
Microsoft has already taken steps to reduce the densityof content on Xbox Live, recently announcing plans to cull Xbox LiveArcade games that have under-performed - something that Greenberg has previously said would force other developers to "focus on game quality now more than ever".
Speaking to Multiplayer, Greenberg stopped short of confirming that anew version of Xbox Live is on the cards, but the platform holderrecently skipped over the traditional spring dashboard update and thosedevelopers are unlikely to have gone on holiday instead.
Posted by Editorial Team Thu Jun 05, 2008 5:38 pm
Apartments and Flats come to The Sims 2 in Gaming
EA has unveiled the brand new expansion pack for The Sims 2, entitled Apartment Life.
The add-on takes the Sims out of thesuburbs and puts them into a busy apartment building. New charactertypes fill the assortment of coffee shops and playgrounds that surroundyour flat.

You can 'choose' from five new buildings thatrange from converted lofts to roomy and posh studios or luxuryapartments that come with a butler.

This ticks us off,because it sounds like Sims across the world will be able to get avastly better flat than the majority of Londoner's, including us.

We can barely afford a bedsit. You don't see that on the possibility on the list, now do you?

The new pack will be out in August, 2008.
Posted by Editorial Team Thu Jun 05, 2008 5:30 pm
Spec, Photos and Pricing: Dell Mini Inspiron: atom powered in Hardware, Internet, Networking, Comms and Security
It's a small form factor notebook, just like the Asus Eee and the HP2133.He wouldn't tell me what OS it's running, or the pricing, but that it'sa low-cost notebook meant for developing countries, and I hope here.
Maybe it's Atom-powered. Who knows? But I do see three USB ports, acard reader, VGA out, Ethernet, and that red candy shell. I couldn'ttell how big the screen was before it was tucked away into a blacksleeve and ushered from the building, but it's small. Update: Dell just released a pair of shots that add to the sense of scale, but no official name yet.

8.9-inches dolled up in a sub-$500 price tag with a choice of bothWindows XP Home or Ubuntu Linux, 8-in-1 card reader, integrated webcam,direct media playback buttons, and a "host of wireless access options."Expect more next week as the Computex show kicks off. and published yesterday images of the Dell Mini Inspiron ultraportable laptop, the company’s first low-cost mini-notebook.     
Detailsof the Dell Mini Inspiron are currently unknown. However, Gizmodonoticed that the small laptop has three USB ports, a memory cardreader, VGA output, and Ethernet LAN port. The notebook has a red lid.
Earlier reports say Dell’s 8.9-inch screen mini-laptop will be launched in June and will start at $399.

Posted by Editorial Team Sun Jun 01, 2008 7:14 pm
Would you buy a premium priced PC? New Ultimo High spec PC's in Hardware, Internet, Networking, Comms and Security
High end PCs are starting to emerge from the shadow of gaming, as British company UltimoPC is launching a range that will break the bank to lavish you with top end components.

The firm has unveiled five PCs types, the Gaming, Workstation, Mediacenter, Silent and Spacesaver.

Co-founder Paul Harris said to TechRadar: “The ethos behind Ultimo is to build the best range of personal computers in the world. This may sound like a throw away line but we think long and hard about our choice of components and their compatibility.

“It’s not just about numbers, it’s about reliability, stability and a first class user experience. Every component has been selected for quality, from the Zalman fans to the WD Hard drives, Corsair RAM, Intel Processors and of course the Thermaltake and Coolermaster cases.”

Money can’t buy you love…but it can buy PCs

The PCs come in a range of costs, from the Workstation, which starts at £699, to the high end Gamer, which can be specced up to £2200.

Harris adds: “Our target audience is anyone who wants to buy a high quality rig at an affordable price. We’re confident that no other PC manufacturers will put as much time and effort into building and testing each of their rigs to perfection like Ultimo. Our aim is not to be the cheapest but to be the best.”

The company is also offering a range of high-end peripherals, from monitors to wireless mice and keyboards, to supplement the “expensive is best” ethos.

Each PC comes with up to 1-2TB of storage, and up to 4GB DDR3 RAM is available on most models.

Each PC is made to order, and takes seven days to deliver. Available now.
Posted by Editorial Team Sun Jun 01, 2008 5:45 pm
Valve: 'PC Gaming Market Is Not Dying' - DEBATE in The Great Debates!
The PC is no longer a viable platform. The PC is all about casual gaming. The PC market is dying.

We've heard it all before, and so has Valve's Doug Lombardi. Irecently caught up with the marketing VP during an Electronic Artspress event. At the end of the night, the house music dying down, wehad a long chat on a number of topics--many of which pertained to hiscompany's primary platform.
What does Valve think of the PC Gaming Alliance? Are they as tired ofthe PC gaming "problem" as we are? What is at the root of the issue,anyway?
Do you guys ever get tired of the same old "PC Gaming Is Dying" stories?
Doug Lombardi:
I mean, I think,we sort of laugh at it. Because we've been wildly successful--we'revery fortunate, you know. Our games have all done really, really well,Steam has taken off and become this whole other business for us, Valvehas never been in better shape--and yet everybody is talking about howin the PC world, the sky is falling. And we're like, we've been doingthis for 10 years now--actually 12 years since the company started, 10years since the first game came out--and we've never been in bettershape, financially or otherwise. The company is over 160 people now--itwas 20 people when we shipped Half-Life. We've got multiple projectsgoing--we were always a one-project-at-a-time group.
We don't understand why that story gets traction over time. I thinkpeople have finally started to clue in to the fact--there was a storylast week where people finally looked at the online subscriptionrevenues for WoW and all the things that look like WoW, and realized,wow, there was a butt-load of cash being made here that wasn't beingcounted at the register, at retail, in North America, which is whereall these stories come out of.

NPD, god love 'em, they release a US retail sales report, and peopletake that and say that's the world picture. And it's just not true.It's not like NPD is trying to be evil. Their job is to report NorthAmerican sales data. They're doing their jobs. But people are takingthat and discounting.. in Germany for example, retail sales of PCproducts crush all other games, with the possible exception of the DS.It certainly kills all of the next-generation consoles. So if peoplewere looking at that and factoring it in, if people were looking atWoW's subscriptions alone and factoring it in, looking at Steam salesand factoring it in.. Just look at what Popcap's doing--Bejeweled andPeggle and all this stuff--they're not in that NPD data.
If you go around and you look at all these different things that arehappening on the PC, and you add them together, my hunch is that [thesales numbers] would actually be much larger than all of the consolesput together. Again, minus the DS, because the DS is this crazy thingby itself. But talking purely in terms of the Wii, the PS3, and the360, if you added those together and looked at the whole picture, I'dbet you PC would be even, if not bigger than those three systems interms of the money that's changing hands and the opportunity for doingbusiness.
So we always look at those things, and we always kind of laugh. We'redoing just fine, Popcap's doing just fine, Blizzard'scertainly--they're printing money down there. We always sort of shakeour heads, and go, okay, sooner or later someone's going to write thebigger picture story and perceptions will change.
Interesting that you use the word "perception." Is this a perception problem?
Doug Lombardi:
It is absolutelya perception problem. I mean one of the things that happensis--Microsoft has an army of PR people that work for Microsoft. Theyhave at least two agencies that are additional armies. Nintendo I'm notas familiar with their PR outline, but I'm sure it's similar. Sony issimilar. The PC has nobody. They've got people like us, in our sparetime, talking to guys like you. I mean if there were hundreds of PRpeople stationed around the world, whose whole job was to call youevery day and tell you why the PC was a great platform, your perceptionwould probably be different.
As far as improving perception, what do you think about something like the PC Gaming Alliance? I noticed you guys aren't partners. Any particular reason behind that? Do you see a real benefit coming out of the PCGA?
Doug Lombardi:
We'll see. Imean, I think it's great that a group of major players are gettingtogether and trying to address the problem. For us, we're really busydoing Steam, building our games. We're not really members of any of theboards, whether it's the IDG, or the PC Gaming Alliance, or whatever.If those guys want our opinion, we'll give it to them, but being onthose boards is kind of a job. We try to remain a small independentstudio, and if our help is needed in some way other than just joiningthe group for the sake of being another developer sitting a table atthe meetings, then we'll talk to those guys. I mean we're totally opento it, we want them to succeed, but until we see an actionable reasonfor us to be involved in it, you know, how we can help in a tangibleway, we're going to kind of sit in the bleachers with everybody elseand wish them luck.

Wedefinitely wish them luck. Like I say, part of the reason why the PChas the perception issue is that they don't have a group of peoplechampioning it. And if the PC Gaming Alliance says, "We need to attackthis from an advertising and PR standpoint," we'll be there to givethem quotes. [laughs] So however we can help. Just because we're not onthe board doesn't mean we're not rooting for them.

Do you see a PC gaming resurgence on the horizon, at least in terms of how people think about the platform?
Doug Lombardi:
I think you cansee it in this room. I don't know what the final total is here, but Ithink there are eight PC games and three console games here?
Yeah, about that.
Doug Lombardi:
And this is EA's"getting ready to start clubbing you guys over the head for E3"campaign that's beginning. So I think it's starting to happen. I thinkwe saw some of that last Christmas too. A lot of the big titles wereOrange Box on the PC, Crysis, World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusadedid really well. I think this year you're going to see a lot of thesame thing with Left 4 Dead, Spore, Battlefield Heroes. There's a lotof people making great PC product. id is getting ready to rev up abunch of really great PC product, and those guys are always great.They've been legends on the PC since, what, '93? So I think it alwayssort of comes and goes.

There's this kind of roller-coaster ride: the consoles launch, their PRagencies go out and do everything they can to try and say the PC isdying, they'll prop up the sales of the console, the console starts toget old in the tooth, the PC starts leapfrogging in terms of graphicsand bigger releases. So we're almost what, mid-way through the consolelifecycle now? So yeah, over the next two years the story's going tocome back that the PC is bigger, things like Left 4 Dead and Spore, theid titles are going to come out and everybody's going to be like, "Wow,those console titles are looking kind of crappy."

Do you think PC system requirements are an important part of this perception problem?
Doug Lombardi:
Oh, I think it'sa big problem. I think it's a big problem. You know, we try to bereally responsible. Going back to Half-Life 1, we tried to be reallyresponsible in saying the average PC gamer should be able to play thisgame start to finish and have an enjoyable experience. Now, they're notgoing to have the best graphics, they're not gonna have every shaderturned on and what have you. But they're gonna have a decent framerate,all the monsters and creatures are going be there, and all the dialogueis going to be there. From a basic content and experience level,they're going to be able to go through that.
We take that Steam hardware surveytwice a year, and we publish those results of usually a million or moregamer systems. We publish those very consciously to try to help otherpeople realize like--here's a million people on Steam and what theirsystem requirements look like. No, you can't drop support for DirectX 9yet. There's still 70% of the people playing on Steam today are runningon DX 9 cards. So you've gotta be cognizant of that, and RAM and CPUspeeds, same way.
In the old days we had sort of this weird, "Okay, here's some of whatthe card guys and CPU guys are telling us they're gonna be selling, andhere's this voodoo crystal ball thing we're going to do and try toguess." Now that Steam survey gives us an exact data point to workfrom. You've got a million people, we do it every six months, and wecan go back and say 18 months ago it was here, and here's the adoptionrate, and we can see the trajectory. It's pretty black and white.
I think hopefully one of the things we did really well with Orange Box,and we've heard this from a lot of people: "I fired up Portal on mythree year old machine and it ran great." And that helps us sell moreunits, and helps the perception of the PC industry. People buy a newgame and their system is 18 months old and it doesn't run, or it'sunplayable, that hurts the PC industry. That person who just spentmoney on a PC game is going to have a question mark next time he walksinto the store. And he's gonna say, "Geez, I don't know, if I buy it ona console I know it's going to work."
So I mean, I think people just need to do a better job of looking atwhere gamers are at, being more honest about the system requirementsthey put on the box, and just sort of taking a step back and saying,"Gameplay is king, performance is second, and graphics are somewhereafter that." People have said to us, you know, Portal is cool, but itwasn't the prettiest game. Well, okay, it sold a whole lot, it wasnamed game of the year by over 30 outlets, and many of the people whoplayed it told me they finished it and had a great time. I would muchrather have that than have people tell me it was the prettiest gamethat came out last year.
Does theresponsibility lie somewhat with the hardware manufacturers to markettheir products in a reasonable way, or is it up to the developers toset sane requirements?
Doug Lombardi:
Oh I think it'stotally the fault of the developers. Totally the fault of thedevelopers. I mean the graphics guys, their job to keep pushing theenvelope, and as they push the envelope, move the lower-end cards downto a nice price point, so that there's always this evolution that'shappening. If you're a hot rod type of guy, and you want to spend $400on the latest thing, you want to have a smoking machine, and when Left4 Dead comes out you want to run it at its highest resolution withkiller framerates, and call your buddies over for a beer and make themall drool over your system, awesome. But if you're just a guy who wantsa decent PC for less than a thousand bucks, and wants to be able to rungames on it, there should be a card out there that runs games at adecent famerate and decent fluidity. Then it's on us to write for bothof those guys.

It's a business decision, really. Too often I think the developmentside of things runs the house. People say, "Oh, we've got to targetthose high-end core gamers. We have the best graphics, sweetestscreenshots, and we'll get more press, and we'll win." Okay, well,you'll win in the pre-launch phase. Then when the game comes out, and60-70% of the people who don't have that sweet machine--maybe evenhigher numbers, maybe 80% don't have that sweet machine--well you justcut off your ability to sell to all of those guys.
You know, it's hard to be able to have games that scale, and to writeperformance on the high end, and write performance on the bottom end,but you know, winning in any industry means some hard work, and there'sa certain level of hard work that developers have to takeresponsibility for. And when you see games that do that, where theyhave solid gameplay, and they scale well across machines, usually thosegames do well.
Posted by Editorial Team Sat May 24, 2008 6:22 pm
Sunderland: highest percentage of homes with broadband in Business and Industry in Gaming, Media, Web, IT and Computing
The data is published in Ofcom’s annual communications market report, whichshows figures for each city for the first time, as well as by region.
The results paint a picture of changes in how people use new technologies, inturn reflecting social patterns.
Sunderland has been building itself up as an IT hub, starting in the 1990swith the city’s telematics strategy, which ran until 2003. It set thefoundations for transforming Sunderland’s traditional industries ofshipbuilding and coalmining to technology-based companies, many of which arebased at the Rainton Bridge business park.
The city council’s digital challenge programme, launched last year, aims toget more people in the city online. All libraries offer internet access andthe council has opened so-called community “electronic village halls”, whichalso let people log on to the net.
The Ofcom report also reveals that for the first time, the proportion of homesin rural areas with broadband — 59 per cent — has outstripped that in urbanareas, which is 57 per cent.
Ed Richards, Ofcom chief executive, said: “The report highlights a closing ofthe geographic digital divide in the UK.”
There are now 14.25 million homes with broadband in the UK, out of a total of25 million households.
Of those who do not have broadband, only 1 per cent now say is it is becausethey cannot access it. The main reasons are now because people do not wantit or they cannot afford it.
Ofcom said one of the factors boosting broadband uptake in the countryside isonline shopping. Three quarters of rural internet users making onlinetransactions, compared with 69 per cent for the UK as a whole.
Dr Victoria Nash, policy and research officer at the Oxford InternetInstitute, said: “Income, age and level of education might well be a causefor the discrepancy. High levels of unemployment could also have an impactin towns such as Glasgow. Diminished local services in rural areas mightmean the online environment becomes more important.”
She said reasons for higher uptake in rural areas could also be due to morepeople working from home, driven by an increasingly green culture and therising price of petrol.
The English spend more time on the internet than anyone else in the UK, with77 per cent of their time online spent sending emails and instant messagesand visiting chatrooms. The Welsh watch more satellite television than therest of the UK with 79 per cent taking a satellite service compared with anaverage 65 per cent across the UK.
Ofcom found that take-up of digital television has reached 85 per cent ofhomes, up 10 per cent since 2006.
Meanwhile, Ofcom said yesterday that it would deregulate almost 70 per cent ofthe wholesale broadband market because there was sufficient competition inthese areas.
Posted by Editorial Team Sat May 24, 2008 6:17 pm
Intel updates gaming laptop chips in Hardware, Internet, Networking, Comms and Security
INTEL IS GOING to launch a raft of 35W 'desktop' parts onJune 22 of this year, but no one thinks they are going to go into many desktops.What you are seeing is the new line of XTReeM(1) gaming laptops.
The new parts are going to replace the X9000, X7900, and a lot of T seriesparts from the 7xxx to 9xxx range. New in June are the X9100@3.06GHz,T9600@2.80, P9500@2.53, T9400 also @2.53, P8600@2.40 and the lowly P8400@2.26.All but the last two are 6M caches, those have 3M, but all are on a 1066FSB.
The costs on them are $851, $530, $348, $316, $241, and $209 respectively ifyou order enough to use as building materials.
The keen-eyed will notice that this is pretty much the same price points asthe 800FSB parts they replace. What can be launching on June 22nd then?Montevina perhaps?
In Q3 some time, the QX9300 will slot in above the X9100 and usher in theworld of quad core laptops. While it is fun tomockthe slow, the simple fact that Intel can put out a 2.53GHz 12M quad in 35W,not 45W as some others claim, is nothing short of amazing. It will cost $1038upon release.
Posted by Editorial Team Fri May 16, 2008 4:53 am
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